Let me give you an idea.
The network is too slow. In order to speed it up, install a new 10/100 ethernet switch.
Then watch as the network slowly goes to hell. First it's slower, then it stops working entirely. Everyone in your office stops working and stares at you.
Swap the old hub back in. Everything is fine again.
Wait on hold for 45 minutes. Get an RMA number. Mail back the switch. Wait seven days. A replacement arrives in the mail.
Plug it in.
The network starts out fine, and then gets slow again. Although this time, it never stops working altogether.
As before, the server (Linux) shows (cat /proc/net/dev) hundreds of thousands of collisions AND carrier drops. (Switches are never supposed to have collisions - one reason why they're theoretically faster.)
Notice that when I unplug and plug the server back in again, it goes to half-duplex - from full-duplex. At half-duplex, things are suddenly passable - back up from LocalTalk speeds to 10BT speeds. Collisions? About 5,000 per megabyte, but at least things work now. Keep in mind, this is a switch. Also keep in mind, everything was fine before.
Replace the server's patch cable.
Collisions/carrier drops decrease - speed remains identically impaired.
There's no easy way to get ethernet diagnostics from the other windows boxes or macs on the network... Other Linux boxes, however, are not reporting any collisions or carrier drops.
I want to test out fast file transfers on another Linux machine with a different ethernet card, so I can monitor collisions/drops and try to build evidence the server has a bad ethernet card. Well, bad for this particular switch, anyway. I decide to set up Linux on my own machine, which fits the bill perfectly.
I happen to have a Win98/Win2k dual booter. I install PartitionMagic (so that I can resize my windows partitions and make room for Linux).
During the install, I'm asked to create some "rescue disks" in case anything goes wrong. Scrupulous person that I am, I do.
My computer is one of the fancy new ones with an IDE SuperDisk floppy drive. It's a little funky. I'm idly curious as to what will happen during the disk creation process. Sure enough, when I attempt to format my floppy disks, I'm given the option to format them "1.38MB" - and no alternatives. I do, and then run the disk creation utility. It says "not enough room on floppy."
I look around, and spot the closest real floppy drive - in a Linux machine. mformat a:... and now the floppy works fine. I make my rescue disks - two for PartitionMagic, and one for BootMagic.
Just for the hell of it, I defragment my Windows 2000 partition. Once this is done, I notice a demure "Things have changed - make a new Emergency Boot Disk" warning.
That's great, but how do I do that exactly? I search around for 5 minutes, and then give up.
I repartition the disk, shrinking the unused win98 partition and using the leftover space for Linux.
I Reboot with the Redhat 7 CDs. The install runs smoothly, except that Redhat 7 doesn't recognize my Radeon (doh). The whole process (custom install) takes about three and a half hours.
Reboot, attempt to run Win2k.
Error on boot. "Unable to find..." something. NTLDR, or ntsokernel, or something.
Reboot with win2k CD. Try "emergency repair console." Hunt around through the command list until I see something called “fixboot”. Run it. Reboot.
Error on boot. "Unable to find..."
Reboot with win2k CD. Try "emergency repair console" again. Run “fixboot” again, followed by “fixmbr”.
Error on boot.
Reboot with win2k CD. Run “Automated repair.” The repair system “Can't find windows.” It asks for an “Emergency Repair Disk.”
That’s right. The one I didn’t make. Then it gives me an “Internal error 2210.” Crash.
Reboot. Error. "Unable to find..."
Run “Automated repair” in Manual mode. “Internal error 2210.” Crash.
Try BootMagic rescue disk. It gives an error and crashes out of its autoexec.bat. From the DOS prompt, I see an EXE, and run it. It lets me select a partition to boot from. Select Win2k’s parition.
Reboot. Error. "Unable to find..."
Boot in win98. Install PartitionMagic. Turn win2k’s logical partition into a primary one.
Repeat the above 5 steps. Repeat the above 5 errors.
Try to reboot into win98 again.
Reboot with win98 CD. "Setup not found" error. Drop to DOS prompt.
scandisk: not found.
chkdisk: not found.
Reboot with "win98 emergency repair disk" I made in 1998. Run scandisk. The win98 partition is swiss cheese.
Boot with PartitionMagic rescue floppies. These, at least, work. They just take 5 minutes to start. Nuke the win98 partition.
Reboot with win98 CD. Yes, it really does do nothing but say "Setup not found" and bounce me to a shell prompt. Yes, this really is a Microsoft imprinted, holographically stamped Windows 98 Second Edition CD – and it really is completely useless.
Reboot with PartitionMagic rescue floppies. Nuke the Linux install I just spent all this time over. Attempt to reposition the win2k partition to the front of the disk so the win2k repair system can "find it." PartitionMagic fails - internal error 4001.
Reboot. Repeat. Crash - internal error 4001.
Boot with win2k CD. Emergency repair console. CHKDSK /p on the win2k partition. The screen fills up with errors that are being corrected. Win2k partition is now also swiss cheese. However, now it's at least consistent, right?
Reboot with PartitionMagic rescue floppies. Attempt to reposition the win2k partition to the front of the drive again. PartitionMagic fails - internal error 4001.
Reboot with win2k CD. Run automated repair. Can't find a windows installation to repair. Internal error 2210. Crash.
Wonder whether my files are still there.
Reboot with win2k CD. Install a new version of Windows 2000 into the unpartitioned space on the hard drive. This takes 2 hours.
Reboot. Discover that drive C: is your old Windows 2000 drive ("System"), drive F: is your new boot drive ("Boot"), neither drive letter can be changed. I am NOT going to try to press on like this.
Reboot with PartitionMagic rescue disks. Discover that win2k setup made an extended partition at the beginning of the drive and put its new install of win2k into it. This shouldn't even boot at all. Let's not even wonder
how it decided it was drive F:. Nuke it. Make a new (primary) fat32 partition in its place myself, format it, and "hide" the old win2k partition.
Oops, bad block checking (completely wasted effort with modern hard drives) is on. Wait 4 hours for this operation to complete.
Reinstall win2k a second time. 2 hours later, it boots.
Begin to install drivers.
Install video driver, Ultra ATA driver...
Discover that Win2k is now hard-locking the computer - including the power button - within 3-5 minutes of booting up... every time it boots up. This takes about 4 crashes.
Go to the website of the manufacturer whose Ultra ATA driver you just installed to get the new version. It's a passworded driver area. This is completely asinine. Fortunately, you have a password. Unfortunately, it was written in Outlook. Before your computer crashed.
Fortunately, you have it mirrored in your palm pilot. Look it up. Type it in. Start the download. 68%... 71%... 74%... crash.
Reboot in "Safe Mode with networking." Go back to the same website.
Enter your username. Hit tab.
End Task. Restart MSIE. Go back to the website. Enter your username again. Hit tab again. MSIE crashes again. Yep, it’s definitely the tab key.
End Task again. Restart MSIE again. Go back to the website. Enter your username again. Cleverly click on the password field instead of pressing tab to get to it. MSIE crashes again.
Scream. Stamp on the floor. Search desperately about for something to fragile to smash against the wall. Fantasize about skipping your next vacation so you can afford to beat the living daylights out of the computer, throw it out the window onto the street, and then light it on fire, and then buy a new one.
Consider new career in street corner hot dog vending. After all, you get all the hotdogs you want for free.